Burn Notice Characters

Burn Notice Lead Characters

Main Characters

Michael "I used to be a spy" Westen and his close group of "burn fighters" and "wrong righters."

Michael Westen (Jeffery Donovan)

Photo of Jeffery Donovan playing Burn Notice TV character Michael Westen
Michael Westen is a more than simply-average, field-operative spy, but he was notified that he had been “burned” while in the middle of a mission in Warri Nigeria. No small event in that line of work, which got him severely beaten and nearly killed. The son of Frank and Madeline Weston, he lived in Miami until age 17 when his mother forged her husband’s name on a permission document so he could join the military.  One day he graduated and 'poof' he was gone. Unconscious after the beating he took, the airline personnel would only say 'they were told' to bring him back to Miami where he regained consciousness in a sleazy hotel by a kick in the butt from his 'emergency contact' he had stopped dating years before. Besides Fiona Glenanne, a semi-retired IRA explosives expert, he only had two known contacts in Miami: Lucy Chen and Sam Axe (in addition to his mother Madeline.)  Pretty much everyone except Sam calls him 'Michael.'  Sam frequently shortens it to 'Mikey' and gets away with it.  He came from an abusive family and missed his estranged father’s funeral by eight years. He has a brother, Nate, who his mother, a hypochondriacal chain-smoker named Madeline,  says went to pot after Mike left.  The bits and pieces we've been able to glean about Mikes life history are as follows:
For more, please read the… complete Michael Westen biography

Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell)

Burn Notice TV character Sam Axe played by Bruce Campbell, photo
Sam is a former US Navy S.E.A.L. who met Michael while working in military intelligence. He has some previous knowledge of both Fiona and Lucy as well; but, was retired and living the good life – off of his pension and wealthy widows he dated – until Michael got burned. Now he has grown into one of Michael's closest friends; which thing has put a serious crimp in his dating. Their friendship is at the level that he is one of the few, or only one, who gets away with calling him 'Mikey.' He is very well 'connected' into government “sources” and has a great facility with computers, electronics and the usual spy type stuff as well. He was married to a woman named Amanda but was divorced 'because the SEALs kept getting in the way.' Later (we assume), he and a girl he met got married but separated 'like the next day' – although neither of them bothered to get a divorce.
With the exception of Michael, he developed a true dislike for spies who he calls 'bitchy little girls.' That stems from a mission he was sent on as punishment for, even though unwittingly, sleeping with the wife of his CO. He and the people he was attempting to rescue were nearly allowed to be killed by the double-dealing and arrogance of two self-centered CIA spys in Columbia. He did get out of it but not with the help of the CIA; although, help from his new 'civilian friends' enabled him to be discharged with a sizeable pension.
[A false passport gave Charles Finley's DOB as 6 Oct 1956 - often forgers use real (or close) DOBs on documents.]
For more, please read the… complete Sam Axe biography

Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar)

Photo of Gabrielle Anwar playing Burn Notice TV character Fiona Glenanne
Fiona met Michael Westen in Ireland when he was under the cover identity of Michael McBride from Kilkenny and she was a 'freelance operative' for the IRA and other entities. She came from an Irish family of seven: five boys (one of them Sean) and two girls. When the youngest, Claire, was 'taken' she got in with a radical named Thomas O’Neill who was planning a bombing in a prep school. She foiled the plan and a few years later O’Neill came after her. She was a member of the IRA and robbed banks for them, has great facility with explosives and tactics and the ability to fight and defend herself. She is impulsive, perseverant, distractible (LD/HK), mean spirited, amazingly self-centered, manipulative and aggressively pursues MW to the point of distraction.
For more, please read the… complete Fiona Glenanne biography

Madeline Westen (Sharon Gless)

Burn Notice TV character Madeline Westen played by Sharon Gless, photo
The mother of Michael and his younger brother Nate who made home at 947 Shady Lane in Miami Florida. She is a very manipulative, hypochondriac chain-smoker who put up with an abusive husband, Frank, apparently through a lot of pretending. For example when her husband stole electrical cable and wood for an addition onto their house, she called it 'finding.' They had a secret hiding place behind a secret panel in their closet for her husband to keep his 'confidential' things - neither M or Nate ever found out about it. She helped her sons negotiate around the situation, with their drunken abusive father, through a series of verbal codes and by overlooking their increasing daliances with the law. She was accepting (at least tolerant) of Michaels childhood “delinquent” behavior; but, not above using it to blackmail him for her own purposes. She did recognize that M was smart enough to get himself into real trouble if he didn't get out of the situation he was in; so, forged her husband's signature on a parental permission form which allowed M to get into the military service early, at seventeen. She recognized that Michael's leaving put a great deal of stress on Nate who then had to deal with their father alone. She later told Mike that 'after you left, Nate went to pot.' Sometime afterward, Frank, who had heart trouble, began 'asking about Michael out of the clear blue. And within a week he was dead from getting drunk and taking an overdose of heart medicine.' Her hypochondriasis increased as did her smoking; and, although she didn't communicate with Michael for months or years at a time, he usually did call on her birthday and she did receive money from him for doctor bills.
Little is known about her parents or childhood except that she described Michael as having an 'Aunt Jo' (sister or sister-in-law?) who she had missed for a long time, and who had invited her to come stay with her.
[Episode 96 shows her drivers license: Class: E, Number: L252-784-65-554-1, Madeline Westen, 947 Baypoint Terr, Miami Fl 33145-1424, Sex: F, Hgt 5'5', DOB 5-31-1953, Issued: 6-17-2001, Expires: 03-15-2012,  Duplicated: 4-15-2007]
For more, please read the… complete Madeline Westen biography

Jesse Porter (Coby Bell)

Photo of Coby Bell playing Burn Notice TV character Jesse Porter
A counter-intelligence agent who was investigating the source of international wars and corruption at the time his key-card was stolen by Vaughn, in order to allow MW to obtain files illicitly. He doesn't have the field experience or training as MW; but, he was none-the-less “burned” when his key-card was used.  Then, when a terrorist came after him he ran to Michael for help.  In spite of the fact that Michael had to continually keep Vaugh from taking action against him, Jesse tiresomely ran around whining and threatening to kill whoever had burned him in nearly every episode.  He had a “handler” named Marv who claimed he believed in Jesse’s innocence but completely refused to deal with him until he was blackmailed to do so – which he was… at least twice.
When he was nine, his mother was shot and allowed to bleed to death in a convenience store robbery. He had not been allowed to go to the funeral to 'protect him' but still carry's a St. Christopher medal that she had given him.  He says that he 'doesn't trust or make friends easily.' He supposedly had a “thing” for Fiona; except that the only thing the writers ever gave us to prove it was the occasional odd, superficial innuendo and Madeline observing to us that she noticed it. [Actually, the Jesse character is the most poorly designed and executed character arc in the whole series and receives much impatient, negative comment from the fan base – many of who desire that he be killed off.]  Jesse “found out” from Marv that it had been M who had burned him and escalated his pouting into full blown adolescent tantrums, ignoring what he had actually seen of what M, Fiona and Sam accomplish or how they do it; or, even considering any possible alternatives as to who actually had done the “burning.” He played like he was going to shoot Fiona then left and lurked on the periphery waiting for them to come to him and coddle him like they’ve done all season.
The following season, the Jesse character changed quite a bit. Either the weak story arc was over and the writers were no longer needed or fan complaints finally got through and Matt decided that he needed to make him not so much like a soap-box-opera drama queen. He seems to be much more believable as a capable spy, stands on his own, needs less deference and adds capabilities and assets to the team.
When Olivia Riley was conducting illegal interrogation on him she used a fake police folder to entrap him and we found out that: - There had been a confidential informant that the police had who knew something about Jesse's mother's death but they had sealed it. - Jesse had tried to obtain it thirty-seven time without success. - He had 'spent ten years, six lawyers and thirty-seven requests and every one of then denied.' He found later that the folder only contain blank pieces of paper.
For more, please read the… complete Jesse Porter biography

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